Leadership

How I Became A C.E.O | Lessons in Creating Opportunity

“Talent is Universal …Opportunity is not”

So yesterday I was telling my children about some of my childhood stories. We laughed so hard my eldest fell of the chair with laughter. A few things struck me in my story and I picked up some patterns, pregnant with life lessons.

Let’s rewind to 1990 – I had just finished my junior certificate (Form 2). I arrived in Harare for the first time – yes first time to visit my brother who was already working. After a few days in Harare I got my first “job” working for my uncle – Bamnini Bevan who had a carpentry shop in Magaba in Mbare. Every morning I would wake up early and go to “work” – I was only 14. After working so hard he never paid me as agreed! Bless his soul. I was never bitter – we even laughed about it.

Fast forward to 1992 I completed my O levels. Even before the results were out I went to Gweru for the the first time – this time I went to stay with an Uncle – Sekuru Munhanda. He owned a small college which was a Pitman exams Centre so I started studying Accounts & Finance during the gap period! When O level results came out I suspended the studies because I had to go and do A level studies.

While at University, I invested about $500 of my payout in a recruitment business. Two smooth talking gentlemen – Phillip and Patrick talked me into it. I was naive I lost everything and was almost beaten up following up on my “lost investment”.

Years later the year is 2008, I am now working in South Africa – I am just a few months in a foreign country and I got myself a side gig as a columnist in Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) magazine. In no time I was already getting qouted in the respected IT Web’s i-Week(www.itweb.co.za) and national broadcaster SABC as an expert in my field.

When I was recently studying (2 week block release) in Kenya in 2013 I offered to go and teach Strategy at a local university for FREE- it was an exciting lecture. In 2014 I also helped a technology company in Kenya set up their Strategic Programme Management Office (SPMO) and I did some cool consulting stuff for them in my spare time for FREE. In short this is how I became a Creator of Empowering Opportunities (C.E.O) of my life.

Let me share some insights:

1. Don’t wait for opportunities – create them. Talent is universal – opportunity is not.

2. It’s okay to start small – my first job I was a carpenter crafting wood…now I am a strategy expert I shape organisations

3. When you go to a new place don’t think of checking out the fun places only – invest in networks, connect with opportunities. First time In Harare I picked a job. In Gweru I picked a new skill. In South Africa I build my personal brand. In Kenya by offering my skills for free I put a down payment for opportunities I may need to go and close one day!

4. You don’t always win or earn – sometimes you learn. I lost $500 in a bad investment

5. It’s not where you start that matters, it’s where you end up – I started working in Magaba-shed and now I am in the C-suite

6. Don’t be driven by the PROCESS (what, how, when)…be led by your PURPOSE (the WHY)

7. A skill is a seed. Don’t waste it invest it.

8. If you only link the value of your skill to a salary you will never grow your influence beyond job titles and job grades

Lastly because of an attitude of being a Creator of Empowering Opportunities (C.E.O) most times I don’t have to apply for jobs…I am given work. You can too!

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Don’t Create A Monument of The Past : Insights On Moving On

“So Moses, the disciple of the Lord, died …. and the Lord buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but no one knows the exact place” – Deuteronomy 34:5-6

It is instructive that God buried Moses out of sight. The children of Israel up to now do not know where the grave of Moses is. It’s pretty clear God wanted the Israelites to move on and possess the land and not be sentimental about Moses the deliverer.

A few insights as I read this scripture:

1. Emotions take you to the past. Motion takes you to the future
2. You were created for movement, not monuments
3. Aim for attainment not sentiment. Sentiment affects your mood but brings no good
4. Not everyone who starts with you must finish with you
5. Move on…you are not a robot. Your feelings don’t always get it

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Time for A Life Facelift & Uplift : Arise & Shine!

“There was a woman present, so TWISTED and BENT OVER with arthritis that she couldn’t even LOOK UP. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was STANDING STRAIGHT and TALL giving GLORY to God” Luke 13:11-13 (MSG)

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning. You may be going through an ugly situation or dealing with a challenging matter. It doesn’t matter – God can deal with any matter. The condition might have gone on for years. So what? There is no condition beyond the grace of God to deal with. It’s time to know the following liberating truths:

1. Jesus makes the twisted financial, marital, business, work, relationship, health situations straight
2. If you are bending over under the weight of challenges today you are free.
3. The indignity and shame of your situation is taken away – you can now LOOK UP . You have a FACELIFT now.
4. Where you came short, Jesus has given you an UPLIFT – you can stand tall again

Declare this:

I have a major facelift and uplift. Every shame has been replaced with fame. I can rise and shine above the crushing weight of inadequacy, guilty and shame.

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Small Steps To Solve Big Problems

There is a proverb that says “You eat an elephant piece by piece” This is an approach that you can use to tackle some of life’s goals and challenges in 2014. It’s good to set big goals at the start of the year. The enormity of the goals can be overwhelming if you don’t apply wisdom. There is a common story in which Jesus fed 5000 from a boys lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves. How did he do it?

“For they were about 5000 men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by 50 in a company” – Luke 9:14

Let’s look at simple practical steps of solving a big problem:

1. Know your problem – the problem in this instance was hunger
2. Establish all the facts – the depth, height and width of your problem. They counted 5000 mouths to feed
3. Sit your problem down. A problems looks big if you “look up” to it. Look down at your problem
5. Organise your problem into small chunks. The 5000 was broken down into groups of 50

You may be facing a big problem or goal to today. Relax – problems gravitate towards solutions. You are a solution bringer. Go ahead and solve it!

Declaration

I am a problem solver. I create an opportunity for the supernatural to happen in my life by being organised. No problem is too big for me to solve. I am ready and equal to every task and challenge.

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An Obama Selfie, Zuma Boos and a Fake Interpreter: Life is full of side shows, focus on the main show

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This week 3 events threatened to become the main show at Mandela’s funeral – the President Obama selfie, the fake “Interpreter” and the President Zuma booing. It was lost on the media that while Obama was caught getting himself a picture, his moving speech was by far an outstanding portrait of Mandela. While an interpreter failed to make meaningful signs as the speeches were being read, this should have never become big news – Mandela is the real and eloquent deal…his life needs no interpreter. I still can’t get over the fact that South Africans chose the occasion of Mandela’s funeral to boo their President. When we publicly humiliate our leaders we ruin their confidence and diminish their capacity to lead. This is not my point but I had to say it! Booing President Zuma was out of place on a day when there should have been cheers for Mandela.

Lessons to ponder about:

1. Never let a side show become the main show
2. People always criticize because it makes them feel better and bigger
3. The one with the ball is the one who is marked. Keep playing!
4. Criticism is meant to diminish so learn to replenish your confidence

The Power of Consistency: Lessons From Nelson Mandela

“Trevor when you packed my things where did you put my weights?” These were the words which Nelson Mandela asked Trevor Manuel (ex South African Finance Minister), a day after he had been released from jail after 27 years. ‘Your weights?’ Trevor asked. ‘Yes, my weights. I gym every morning, I need my weights!’ Mandela responded matter-of-factly. This was in a telephone call at 500am in the morning! It sounds rather surprising for someone who had spend 27 years in jail to worry about weights just a day after tasting freedom. However this was the hallmark of Nelson Mandela – consistency. He has led a life of consistency whether in speech or in action. So consistent was this democracy icon that 26 years after his Rivonia Trial (in 1964) speech he used exactly the same words to end his Freedom speech (in 1990) as follows:

‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die ‘ – Nelson Mandela in 1964 and 1990

Without doubt, the force of consistency has helped Mandela realize his ideals during his lifetime. This is a lesson to every one of us that if we cultivate consistency we will enjoy the fruits of our ideals, dreams and aspirations. Reflect on this:

1. Consistency is the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with no variation.
2. Consistency produces specific desired patterns of behaviour, intended habits and the attitudes that lead to achievement of your dreams.
3. Consistency is the force that will bring energy to stuttering goals and receding dreams.

How To Transform Yourself To Succeed (Part 1)

As a coach and mentor one of the things I have learnt is that personal and business transformation is a journey and not an event. However along this journey there are defining moments or events. A lot of people and organisations fail to make the transition from one level of success to the next because they fail to read these key stages. The world abounds with stories of people who did not get great opportunities but made great of the opportunities life presented them. An opportunity of a lifetime exists in the life of that opportunity. The secret is in understanding times and seasons. I shared recently in an article how phone maker Blackberry failed to read the times and they have paid a heavy price. To perform you need to transform. If you conform to the norms you will deform and lose your form. I am a firm believer in disruptive innovation – this requires to be misunderstood… to be a little crazy and weird in pursuit of game changing transformation. Disruptive innovation is understood in hindsight.

There is a simple story in the Bible in Mark 8: 22-26 and I want to share some important lessons on transformation:

“Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village….his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village…”

Jesus encountered a blind man. He took this man ‘by hand’ out of his village. The first time after being laid hands upon this man could see ‘man like trees’. The second time around his sight was completely restored. Jesus then told him not to go back to village. I want to share the 4 vital stages of transformation for your success. These stages are Passover, Makeover, Crossover and Takeover in that order.

Passover Stage – ‘Go Out’

Jesus took the matter of this blind man literally into his own hands, by leading him out of the village ‘by hand’. In order to progress in life you need to leave your village. Village represents familiarity, limitations, little exposure and limited vision. Village is not necessarily a place but is also a state of mind. Village is a place of surrender and condemnation. In Africa the old, retired, sick, rascals and hopeless folk are send to the village. The children of Israel once stayed in a village called Egypt for over 400 years until a time to ‘passover’ came.

In order for your career, marriage, ministry, business or project to flourish you need to leave your village.  A village or cradle mentality makes you a slave to the familiar, daily grind and routines. In order to experience growth you need to break out of the familiar and go out of your village. For some your job, industry or country has now become your village while others the village is in the mind – you want to stick to the familiar and you think there are sharks out there. Dare the undared, try the untried, venture into the unknown, blaze the trail, go out, break out – passover!

Dont miss out the next Blog for the Makeover Stage…